Happy Re-Opening Day, everybody.
If you love the game the way I do, and I’m guessing you do, this day couldn’t come quickly enough — and noon ET can’t come quickly enough.
Our game — the greatest game in the world, played by the best athletes in the world for the most coveted trophy in the world — is back on the ice. We begin with the Hurricanes and Rangers and then we’re off on what will be undeniably unprecedented and impossibly thrilling.
It has been 142 days since I made an announcement I never could have imagined making and hope no NHL Commissioner ever has to make again. During those 142 days, while our games stopped, the world changed. And we had to change with it.
Working with our players to come up with not just a Return to Play plan that met the challenge of a pandemic, but also an extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, required us to think and act in completely new ways. But, just as important, the killing of George Floyd and ensuing demand for justice and equality that inspiringly swept our countries, required us to accept that what we have done to this point isn’t enough. So we must and will do more and be better to make our game a welcoming place for everyone.
I was asked often during The Pause in our season why we didn’t give up the quest to finish the 2019-20 season and simply move on to next season. One reason is that our players wanted to finish what they had started – and were willing to make tremendous personal sacrifices to do so. But another reason – the most important reason – is that you, our fans, told us that you wanted us to see this through and crown a Stanley Cup champion.
Amid all the excitement about finally dropping the puck again this afternoon, we are all left a bit empty because you can’t be in the stands. But while COVID-19 renders us powerless to do anything about that for now, we are dedicated to ensuring that what you see watching at home will be the best Stanley Cup Playoffs we’ve ever had.
I thank you for your patience. I thank you for your passion.
Be well. Stay healthy. And enjoy.